Project Accessory Showdown! The Two Miami Finalists Give Off-Camera Deets Just Before Tonight’s Finale


This is it, Miami. Tonight is the night we find out whether or not one of our own is crowned the first winner of
Project Accessory
. Will it be
Brian Burkhardt
Nina Cortes
, or that other guy? What’s his name? Who cares? Just a few hours before the finale airs, we caught up with the two Miami locals to chat about off-camera controversy, future plans, and Nina’s excessive use of sugar in a cortadito. It’s a showdown, kids. Can you spot a winner from the answers below? We think so!

Honestly, did you think you were going to make it this far?
Brian: “Did I think I was good enough to make it this far? Yes. My intention from the beginning was just to do what I do: Take risks and keep true to my aesthetic. The fact the judges got me and I made it to the top three is fantastic.”
Nina: “My goal was to make it past the first challenge and at least make it to the third! So no, not at all! I'm so happy and proud of myself for making it this far. It was amazing to see what I was capable of.”

Did either of you know each other before going into the competition?

“Yes, it’s funny! I went into Nina's store, Nina Loren, about a month prior to the show. While we were at the casting call downtown, she was two people in front of me on line. At that point, I knew we were both going out for the show, however I had no idea she made it until I arrived in NYC to film.”
N: “Funny story. Yes, we actually did know each other before. Brian's mother-in-law and wife had been to my studio/showroom after I opened up, and right after that, Brian and his wife passed by. Cut to a few months later, he was in line with me at the auditions here in Miami. Small world!”

So, do you think it was total coincidence, or is Miami magic, after all?
B: “Do I really need to answer that question? Miami is MAGIC. Everyone always thinks NYC or L.A. for fashion, art and, accessories but we were able to show them that Miami is not only hot, it is HAUTE!”
N: “Magic!”
What was the best part about being on the show?
B: “Well, as you can imagine, the exposure you get is unbelievable, but I really enjoyed working and living with the 11 other designers. It was exhausting for all of us at times, but I am really honored to have worked with Shea, James, Nicolina, Kelly, Adrian, Cotrice, David, Diego, Christina, and, of course, Rich, and Nina. We all have such different backgrounds and skill sets; But everyone was working to their absolute potential, which created an environment that was charged with competition and excitement!”
N: “The best part about being on the show was seeing that I was capable of making more than just jewelry. I grew so much during my time there! It was a design incubator. There was nothing else to life — just creating, so I was in heaven! Oh, and meeting the judges and guest judges. Having them give insight on my designs was great. I learned so much from them! (Thank you guys!)”

Nina, what was your favorite piece by Brian?
“My favorite piece that Brian made on the show was the heel that he made for the shoe challenge. I was blown away by the technique he used; It was beautiful.”

Brian, what was your favorite piece by Nina?
“I think it would have to be Nina's matchstick necklace from the first challenge.”


Brian, was there ever a time you thought Nina wasn’t going to make it?
“If I ever did...after the first challenge all doubts were gone. I knew that Nina would be in the top, or die trying!”


Nina, was there ever a time you thought Brian wasn’t going to make it?
“I think the whole world was a little concerned after the resin-pouring incident during the red-carpet challenge!”

If you could work with anyone who would it be?

“From the show? James Sommerfeldt, he is an amazing, eccentric shoe designer. (Plans for a collaboration are already in the works...stay tuned!). In the world? I would have to say Jean Paul Gaultier. It may sound nerdy, but I have been and continue to be inspired by the clothing he created in The Fifth Element.”
N: "I could make this list for days! I'd love to work with Lorraine Schwartz, Kenneth Cole, Rachel Roy, and pretty much every other celebrity designer from the show. Or any of my peers on the show, especially Diego. I'm a huge Diego Rocha handbag fan. He's a great guy and an amazing craftsman!”

We can tell by watching the show that you both get along. But was there ever any off-camera controversy?
B: “No. Well, she makes a cortadito too sweet for my liking.”
N: “I think I may be dog-sitting in January.”
Can you give us a teaser for tonight’s show (the finale)?
B: “Lets just say you need a chainsaw to cut through the tension in that workroom!”
N: “Always expect the unexpected.”
If you weren’t on the show, where would you be right now?
B: “In the studio… in the studio... in the studio.”
N: “Making jewelry in my studio — my happy place.”
What’s next for each of you?
B: “I will be launching a new exotic leather line with TRIIAN in the beginning of the new year. I have a bunch of custom orders I am working on, and am going to be focusing on more couture pieces.”
N: “I've been working my tushy off to be able to make a living off of my line, Nina Loren, and I will continue to pursue that dream!”
Photo: Courtesy of Lifetime.

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